President Muhammadu Buhari has identified corruption and internal conflicts within the African Region as the major challenges that should be tackled in a bid to actualize the sixty-year dream of a regionally integrated Africa.
He made this observation at the Africa’s Presidential Roundtable, tagged, ‘The next sixty years in Africa: Looking for Wins’ held at Intare Conference Arena, in the Rwandan city of Kagali.
President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said, “We have identified knowledge economy, artificial intelligence and delivery of ideas as well as serene policy environment as answers to Africa’s quest for development.”
He said, “To my mind, I think there are major issues that constitute hindrance to Africa’s integration despite having in place a policy environment that will allow integration in Africa”.
“I find the issue of corruption and prevailing conflicts as serious set-back militating against the development and integration of Africa. Conflicts and corruption within the region hinder policy environment and delivery of ideas.”
He charged African Union Leaders and Stakeholders in the development of Africa, to vigorously pursue the processes of surmounting the challenges posed by corruption and internal conflict, for a regionally integrated Africa and the next 60 years Africa envisaged.
He said, “If we are talking of having a road network project infrastructure for example, passing through Nigeria, Chad and perhaps down to Southern Sudan, a project which may take two to three years to complete may end up taking up to 15 years to complete arising from the conflicts making access and penetration to projects areas impossible.”
On the issue of corruption, President Buhari explained that, “If you are talking of infrastructure, a development project that might cost $1b to execute may end up consuming much more resources arising from multiplicity of chain of corruption with the result not having been timely achieved and quality compromised”.
The Chairman, African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said although there is no conflict between sovereign African states, internal wrangling within the region characterized by political unrest, insecurity, insurgencies and militancy must be addressed in order to silence the gun in the region.
Mahamat decried that over $50b were embezzled in Africa due to corrupt practices. The amount which, he said, was much bigger than combined international aids that the African continent received across the globe. He therefore, charged Africans to have vision, commitment and conviction for the region that will prosper to a greater level.
In his speech, the Africa Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development in Africa, Raila Amolo Odinga, urged the region to improve in its integration approaches, have unified currency, improved implementation of political and economic policies.
Contributing, the President, Republic of Congo, Mr. Felix Tshisekedi, expressed his determination towards developing individual Congolese who will develop themselves to develop their country, that in turn will pave way for the regional integration and development of the entire African continent.
The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission in Africa, Vera Songwe, emphasized on the importance of African Continental Trade Agreement (ACFTA), improvement in doing business, protection of local industries, addressing competition policies, intellectual property right, e-commerce, peace, governance and leadership in Africa.
While speaking, the host President, Paul Kagame, stressed on the need for African leaders to envisage an African that is accountable to the people of Africa and for the development of Africans.
He highlighted various ways of free trade, African integration, use of technology, peaceful co-existence, fight against poverty, continental prosperity and good governance.
In his remarks, Chairman, the Nation Media Group, Dr. Wilfred David Kibro, explained that the decision to host the programme was informed by the numerous issues in the African continent including youth expulsion in the region, climate change, water scarcity, infrastructural development, peace and security among others.
He noted that education, innovation; good governance and having visionary leaders remain the ideas for Africa to leapfrog the next sixty years.
He also noted that intellect is a universal human gift which Africans are equally endowed with. He therefore advised that Africans need to use their innovative intellect to fashion and follow the path of greatness
DD (Press & Public Relations)